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J Occup Med. 1979 Jul;21(7):490-6.

Subclinical effects of chronic increased lead absorption--a prospective study. II. Results of baseline neurologic testing.


This report summarizes the results of baseline neurologic testing in a group of apparently healthy workers from a secondary lead smelter and a group of controls from nearby aluminum processing plants. The test battery included a standard neurologic examination nerve conduction measurements, quantitative oculomotor function tests and detailed audiologic studies. Lead workers and controls were intermixed so that the examiners were unaware of the status of any individual being tested. Although the lead workers reported significantly more neurologic symptoms than the controls, relatively few differences were found on quantitative neurologic testing. Decreased deep tendon reflexes occured more frequently in the lead workers than in the controls (22% vs. 11%) but the difference was of borderline significance (p=0.06) and other signs of peripheral neuropathy occurred with equal frequency in both groups. The mean motor conduction velocity and sensory latency measurements were not significantly different in the lead workers and in the controls and, of the six oculomotor function measurements, only the mean accuracy of saccadic eye movements was significantly (p less than 0.01) different in the two groups. High frequency hearing loss occurred with equal frequency and severity in both groups, consistent with the level of noise exposure in the lead and control plants.

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